Several days ago, the Dutch PVV party published a program with several anti-Islamic measures including the closure of mosques and a ban on the Quran.

Now, without getting into the actual political discussion, it seems this call is prima facie contradictory to the Dutch constitution, Article 1. Even if it isn't, suppose for the sake of the question that it is.

My questions are:

  • Is the adoption of such a platform by a political party an illegal act? An unconstitutional act?
  • Is it technically possible for individuals/for the executive to challenge acts, political programs or political organizations on these grounds in the Dutch courts? In EU courts / institutions?
  • Is the Dutch government (the executive branch) charged with dealing with activity challenging/undermining the constitution?


  • Please do not answer with a denunciation of the platform or support of it, I obviously have my own opinions but I am interested in the "how the system works" part of this issue.
  • This is a question about the Netherlands, not about other legal settings or abstract/moral considerations.
  • Note that according to Wikipedia,

    The constitution prohibits the judiciary to test laws and treaties against the constitution, as this is considered a prerogative of the legislature. Thus there is no constitutional court in the Netherlands etc.

  • 8
    It seems to me that if the constitution is subject to amendment then it must be permitted for people to advocate for positions that are inconsistent with the constitution. How else could one propose and promote amendments? This does seem off topic; I suspect that Politics is the best forum, but you might get some takers on Law, too.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 16:13
  • @phoog: But the program is not about a constituional amendment, followed by XYZ, it just contains suggested currently-unconstitutional measures. If I adopted a party platform which says that I will send a bulldozer to run over the state's supreme court building - is that legitimate, because I could theoretically pass constitutional amendments followed by laws which allow this?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 18:38
  • 2
    How can you win support for a constitutional ammendment if you do not publicly state it? Or would you prefer that they introduce constitutional changes that the electorate was not informed about? In other order or things, this kind of changes could put a severe strain in the relationships between the Netherlands and the EU (see all the issues the EU has had with Victor Orban's Hungary).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
    @einpoklum It seems like the platform is "we want to do X" -- it's not necessarily important for the platform to specify the specific procedures that are expected to be necessary to implement X. If X is unconstitutional, then an amendment is implied. If its constitutionality is debated, then that will be a matter for the system that normally resolves constitutional questions of that sort.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 19:02
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    @SJuan76: Actually, I think the Netherlands doesn't have a court which can strike down legislation when finding it contradicts the constitution, and only the legislative body can do that. Or am I wrong?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


The Dutch constitution differs from the USA Constitution in many ways.

As a starter, almost every right in the Dutch constitution has the clause "unless otherwise stipulated by law" or a similar limitation. As a result, many claims that a proposal contradicts the constitution, do not contradict it in a legal sense.

As an example, article 9 is about the right to convene and protest. 9.2 however states "The law may lay down rules for [..] the prevention of disorder." As a result, as long as a law starts with "To prevent disorder, this law prohibits [..]" it won't contradict article 9.

Most claims that the some proposals violate the constitution refer to article 1, which has no such "unless the law states otherwise" limitation. However, article 1 includes the text "in equal cases," resulting in discussions whether two similar-but-not-yet-100%-equal cases are equally enough.

Secondly - as noted by the question - courts aren't allowed to test laws against the constitution. They can only use regular laws and international treaties.

Also note that the Dutch constitution is easily changed - see gerrit's answer for the procedure. Nowadays, the Dutch constitution is altered almost every election in some minor way. See this official link (in Dutch), which lists changes in 1987, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2008.

The wish to change the constitution is not limited to the PVV. Over the past decades, many political parties have had party programs that showed a wish to alter the constitution. The following list is far from complete:

  • D66 was founded with the idea to change the Dutch democracy, including switching to district based voting, elections for the position of mayor, and binding referendums.
  • SP wanted to retire the Queen and switch to a republic.
  • GL wants to give courts the right to test laws against the constitution. This is disallowed at the moment, as noted in the question.
  • D66 wants to abolish parts of article 23, especially point 7 which guarantees equal public funds for public and private schools.
  • Several parties want to extend the non-discrimination article 1.

Is a Dutch political party's program allowed to contradict the constitution prima facie?


As the constitution is frequently changed, it must be possible to argue for those changes.

And, as discussed above, it is very hard for a law to actually contradict the constitution.


Yes, a political party in The Netherlands is allowed to propose changes to the constitution. Such a change requires a 2/3rd majority in both chambers of two consecutive parliaments, i.e. with elections in-between. As far as I'm aware, only PVV and SGP want to alter Article 1 of the constitution, and probably not in the same way (PVV want to ban only Islam and currenty poll at ~20%, whereas SGP want to establish a theocracy for their flavour of protestantism and poll at ~2%). It is unlikely either of them (or both combined) would ever obtain the two-third majority in both chambers of parliament necessary to effect such a change. It is difficult to change the constitution even for less controversial issues such as referenda or elected mayors, and indeed the last major change occurred in 1983.

The Dutch language website Parlement & Politiek has more information on how the constitution can be changed in The Netherlands.

  • 1
    Ah, but, you see, the platform did not mention changes to the constitution, but specific measures to be taken which, currently, are unconstitutonal.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 11:44
  • 2
    @einpoklum Any specific measures that violate the constitution (such as banning the Quran or mosques) would in my interpretation imply a proposal to alter the constitution. A different matter is that Wilders has also promised fewer Moroccan people (this is not in the electoral manifesto), for which he is currently facing trial.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 13:09
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    +1 for that link. However, I think it's evidence to the contrary of your assumption. But is your assumption based on experience, or legal analogy, that you could share?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 13:21
  • @einpoklum During an earlier trial which stemmed from his comparison between the Quran and Mein Kampf, he was acquitted from hate speech (even the prosecution asked for an acquittal). The reason there is a new trial is that the public prosecution considers he has crossed a new line by moving from targeting a religion to targeting an ethnic group. The limit for political free speech is quite high in The Netherlands. The electoral manifesto promises are akin to statements Wilders made when acquitted of hate speech.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 13:58

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